In our day-to-day work, we are involved in a lively dialogue with companies of various sizes and industries. In addition to companies that are generally in favour of time recording, there is also a considerable proportion of companies that completely reject such a solution for their employees. This rejection can be attributed to a wide variety of reasons.

In this blog article, I would like to take an objective look at three reasons.

1. working time recording and trust-based working time do not go together.

According to a study from 2018, almost 50% of working people in Germany do not record their time at all or have trust-based working hours. Many of these people cite the reason that they would not track their working hours, as this could not be combined with trust-based working hours. The underlying reason, one could assume, is that time tracking is a restriction of current freedom and is therefore not desirable.

In principle, this position is understandable. The introduction of time recording initially involves a certain amount of effort, but this is manageable if appropriate solutions are used. However, if you look at it from a different angle, you can understand the transparency it creates. With trust-based working hours in particular, it tends to be the case that people work more than they should and regularly work overtime. However, according to a recent study by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO), this is a major burden on their health. Recording working hours is a good control instrument to prevent this problem. It is also possible to enjoy the benefits of working time recording as a company within the framework of trust-based working hours.

2. working time recording creates mistrust

Another argument often heard in everyday dealings with HR managers and managing directors is that people trust people and don't need something like this. It would fuel much more mistrust and thus turn the company climate into a negative one. This is a valid and serious argument. Working time recording can indeed be misused purely as a control instrument. Instead of being used in a positive way, like any tool it can also be misused in a negative way. The consequences in such a case would be the feared deterioration of the working atmosphere. However, with clear, positive communication from managers and clear rules that prevent misuse, this is something that can be managed.

3 I am not legally obliged to introduce/operate a time recording system.

I recently spoke to one of our existing customers on the phone, whose statement was: "We are resisting as long as we are not yet legally obliged to introduce a working time recording system in the company".

In principle, there is a lot to be said in favour of this statement.

The well-known judgement of the European Court of Justice from 2019 that

"Member States[...] must oblige employers to set up a system for measuring daily working time"

has not yet been transposed into German law.

Consequently, the conclusion is that there is still no obligation. Based on the ECJ ruling, there have already been initial judgements by the Emden Labour Court, which consider such an obligation to exist (see also: 2 Ca 94/19 and 2 Ca 144/20). However, the Higher Labour Court of Lower Saxony has relativised this in an appeal procedure of the Emden Labour Court by citing "The ECJ [...] is denied the competence to comment on questions of remuneration".

The situation is different when it comes to the issue of "recording overtime". This has been regulated in Section 16 ArbZG since 1994 and requires mandatory recording of overtime. Recent judgements (see e.g. ArbG Emden - Ref.: 2 Ca 144/20 - Judgement of 24.09.2020) have confirmed this.

Ultimately, there is no clear statement as to whether there is an obligation to set up an objective working time recording system. However, the judgements of the Emden Labour Court show that companies are definitely safer if they can already guarantee the objective measurement of working hours in the company. Observers assume that there will be a legal regulation after the general election. Acting now could save you unnecessary stress as an HR manager/managing director.


The aim of this article is to objectively compare three arguments against time recording with the available facts. All three points are valid arguments and can be a reason for a company to decide against time recording.

On closer inspection, however, all three points can be relativised or even invalidated. For example, even in the case of trust-based working hours, time recording can make a positive contribution to the company, namely to protect the health of employees. Furthermore, it does not have to have a negative impact on the corporate culture, as many fear. What is needed here, however, is clear communication of the purpose and clear rules to prevent misuse.

As things stand today, you are not yet obliged to keep a record of all working hours. However, overtime is already exempt from this requirement. However, it is foreseeable that companies will be subject to such obligations in the coming months.

At the end of the day, time recording is a tool that can be used for both good and bad purposes. In the end, it is up to you to decide for which purpose it is used. My recommendation: only use it for good purposes, it will be worth it. Even if it's just to protect the health of your employees or colleagues by severely limiting overtime. It's worth it for that alone and will pay for itself many times over.

Created by Simon Müller am 08.09.2021 um 14:07 Uhr